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If we don’t do “youth ministry” what can we do?

If we don’t do “youth ministry” what can we do?

In response to “Is Youth Ministry Killing the Church” Laura Darling asks what should we do if we don’t do youth ministry. From Confirm Not Conform:

A post from 2010 has been making the rounds again, and justifiably so because it deserves to be known. Entitled Is Youth Ministry Killing the Church, Kate Murphy reflects on her time in youth ministry and wonders “if we’re ministering them right out of the church.” …if youth ministry is killing the church, then what should we put in its place? I think the time is ripe for a rethink of what youth ministry means.

What the church has to offer that’s different is an opportunity to get out of their own age group. It’s still one of the few places out there where people of all ages meet together. Why not take advantage of that unique property so that youth ministry is all about interacting with adults and learning to navigate that world, both in the church and in society?

All of this, I think, is based on a new understanding of youth ministry not as something we do for youth, but as a form of mutual ministry: youth and adults working together, each with something to offer the other. As many people have learned in any form of charitable endeavor, any “helping” that doesn’t come from a feeling of mutuality, an understanding that the person we are helping also has agency, voice, and gifts, will ultimately do more harm than good.

Read it all here.


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Marshall Scott

I appreciate the comment from “grace for all.” I would suggest in addition that we plan on including high school folks when we plan for adult education. I think that if we’re doing those two things (including them in worship and in adult education) there will still be some value in allowing them some time focused on them, while helping them feel connected with the spiritual life of the larger parish.

grace for all

My apologies

Tim Lusk

Tucson AZ

grace for all

John Westerhoff wrote a book a few decades ago entitled “Will our children have faith?”in which he argued that we make Christians by experiencing the worshipping community. When children attend worship on a weekly basis and that attendance is experienced as a positive in their life, they are far more likely to be in the pews as adults. The mistake many Christian education programs have made is in separating what we do with children and teenagers from the worship life of the church and then wondering why they are not active as adults. This is done by either having Sunday School at the same time as worship (and letting them come in toward the end of worship to receive communion) or by scheduling youth meetings in the afternoon or evening. Our congregation has a family mass that has the structure of the other services but is “loss” in its atmosphere..children walking around during the service etc. Families are coming because they are not worried their children will disrupt others. This issue is much more profound than we realize. The statics are there….the habits we form younger in life come more naturally to us as adults.

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